London, May 20 : Scientists have come up with a revolutionary new tool, called a gamma knife, which uses radio waves to treat life-threatening tumours that could not be removed through conventional surgery.
The gamma knife would utilise radio waves to help surgeons operate on growths inside the head and neck.
It would help in the treatment of cancer patients who were told that their tumour could not be treated.
The tool can also relieve pressure from tumours pressing on nerves inside patients' heads, thereby helping save their sight and hearing.
However, the technique is not available to patients with non-cancerous tumours posing danger to vital blood vessels in the head, or to those whose cancer has spread to the brain.
While this knife cannot relieve a patient from cancerous tumours in the brain, it does help in increasing longevity. However, for those having dangerous but non-cancerous growths near blood vessels and glands it can surely be helpful in saving life.
For the treatment, the patient's head is locked in a metal frame and then the researchers take scans for locating the tumour and finally they target gamma radiation beams at the exact site. The surgeon then continues with the procedure without any damage to the surrounding tissue.
The best part about this two-hour long operation is that it is painless and mostly does away with a general anaesthetic. And as it does no involve open surgery, it will help the patients to recover speedily.
Not only does it help in the treatment of tumours in the head and neck, but the technique may also help in treating defects in blood vessels that can cause seizures and headaches.
The scientists are already trying to develop ways to establish the effectiveness of gamma knife surgery in epilepsy, nerve disorders that cause severe pain in the face and head and in movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
"In the coming years GKS will undoubtedly have a great deal to offer many patients whose conditions were previously untreatable, or else could only be partially or inadequately treated," The Telegraph quoted Phil Blackburn, of the Royal London and St Bartholomew's hospitals and the London Radiosurgical Centre, as saying.